Brutalism is a style of architecture… that much I knew already. And when I saw this building in Wellington a few weeks ago, that was the word that jumped into my head. But is that really how to describe this building?
Luckily, I can just dial up the Wikipedia article on brutalism… and so now I can say with more confidence: yes, that’s pretty much what brutalism looks like, although there are more extreme examples. Unfinished concrete, geometric shapes, minimal ornamentation… check, check, check. Brutalism often makes the building’s inner workings more prominent, like having the elevator shafts on the outside or otherwise exposing the building’s intended purpose. I didn’t see that done here, although it will be worth a return trip to look again sometime.
Brutalism has passionate followers even today, but has largely gone out of fashion as being soulless and making you feel like Big Totalitarian Brother is looming over you all the time. Certainly I would hesitate before venturing into National Office with whatever civic problem might bring me there. To quote The Living, an excellent movie I saw this weekend, “in the meantime we’ll just leave your petition here, it’ll do no harm.”